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It can be difficult to feel connected while isolating at home. The professionals tell us that, in times of great stress and uncertainty, keeping as many of our routines as possible can help elevate negative feelings and raise our spirits. And what better way to raise our spirits then to lift a glass with a dear friend (or friends) for a lively cocktail hour! But wait, we’re supposed to be social distancing and staying at home!!!
No worries, welcome to the virtual Cocktail Hour. You can go old school and just call a friend or two with your phone’s speaker on, but as I have recently discovered, being able to see those happy faces, full of expression, and smiling back at you, is a HUGE mood enhancer during these trying times. The alcohol doesn’t hurt either! If laughter is the best medicine than the virtual happy hour is the prescription we need right now.
I have a long-standing weekly cocktail hour (more like two) with a dear friend of more than 25 years. We live in the same town outside of Philadelphia and our happy hours switch back and forth between our houses. My home gets more use is the summer months due to its great outdoor space and the infamous Yard House, (more on that in another post). My friend’s house is preferred during the winter months as a crackling fire is present continuously from the first snap of fall until the arrival of warmer breezes in early Spring. And, it is one of the coziest homes in Radnor. During our state’s Shelter-At-Home order we’ve started using Facetime to keep this tradition alive and our spirits high!
There are other free options out there, like ZOOM that you can use for online social gatherings. They're perfect for when you have a larger group or when everyone doesn't have an iPhone. When using Facetime be aware that it uses your data and not your cellular minutes. If your plan doesn’t include unlimited data, and most do not, use Facetime over Wi-Fi so it won’t eat up all your plan’s data and surprise you with a big bill at the end of the month. If you want to make certain that you never use your cellular data for Facetime go to SETTINGS on your iPhone, then CELLULAR and scroll down through your apps until you come to FACETIME, then TURN OFF cellular. Do this by tapping the toggle button on the right until it is gray and not green. Now Facetime will only be available over Wi-Fi. You can also use a Wi-Fi enabled iPad or a Mac on your home network.
Most weeks our cocktail of choice is the humble Gin & Tonic. We both prefer locally distilled gin. My friend prefers Blue Coat Gin from Philadelphia Distilling in Fishtown, which employs hand-hammered copper stills and Hall-Woodford wooden fermentation vessels for true small craft spirits. Blue Coat is an American version of London Dry Gin and is easy drinking with a lovely citrus finish. They were the first craft distillery to open in Pennsylvania post-Prohibition. With our State Liquor Stores closed along with all other non-essential businesses, I am happy to report you can buy Blue Coat Gin and their other fine spirits online for curb-side pickup at Philadelphia Distilling in Fishtown or you can have them ship it right to your door.
Give me Liberty. That's the W.P. Palmer Distilling Company's motto. Mine too, as Liberty is my current go-to gin. It’s made from an old Dutch jenever recipe from 1780 with only six classic ingredients; Juniper, Coriander, Angelica, Cardamom, Lemon Peel, and Grains of Paradise. They played around with the proportions for a year, distilling batch after batch with the same six ingredients until Liberty was born. They still use a traditional open-flame copper pot still in their Manayunk Distillery. Liberty gin is simple and complex. It's delicious whether you enjoy it straight, stirred or shaken. W.P. Palmer Distilling Company is offering FREE Delivery on a case of 6 bottles in the Philly 5 County area during the COVID-19 shut-down in Pennsylvania.
Along with our chosen gins we always use the same tonic water, Fever Tree. If you enjoy a good G&T and have not upped your game to a premium tonic, you must do so at once. Fever Tree is our favorite tonic but there are other premium brands and they are getting easier and easier to find. Many good grocery stores carry Fever Tree along with Wegman’s and Whole Foods. A four-pack runs between $5.99 and $6.99 and I have picked it up on sale for $4.99.
This London-based soda and mixer manufacturer has several varieties of tonics, and while we've not tried every single one, we both agree our favorite is the Fever Tree Naturally Light India Tonic Water. It has way less sugar than those familiar big-soda brands, so it's less sweet and packs a refreshing quinine punch. Like they say, "If 3/4's of your drink is mixer, mix with the best" and we agree.
Another twist on this classic. We recently discovered that a nice slice or two of fresh lemon is WAY better than a wedge of lime. The glass you choose makes a dramatic difference as well. No more tall narrow highball glasses for us! Use a glass that has a large bowl. You get more aroma from the gin and lemon as you bring the glass up to drink, which enhances the taste. Trust us!
We carry a set specifically for your G&T's, the Gin O'Clock Glasses. There are lots of glasses that will work. These glasses do double-duty, wine glasses with or without stems work well, as do some tulip-shaped beer glasses. Or try this nifty set of 2 copper stemless glasses. Want a real bargain? This colorful 24-Piece Glass Set features wine and champagne glasses with colorful stems and sturdy bases along with its own storage case for only $24.95.
Need something else for your home bar? We may have it! Enjoy FREE SHIPPING on orders of $49 or more.
OK, what are you waiting for? Text a friend or two and make a virtual cocktail hour date for this week. Then get your libations and snacks lined up, pull up a chair, connect, and set your spirits free!
The Carefree Gin & Tonic
Fill a glass with ice
Pour 2 ounces of your favorite gin over the ice
Pour 3-4 ounces of Fever Tree Tonic
Add two thin lemon slices
Raise your glass, make a toast, and enjoy!
We'll bring fresh inspiration to your Virtual Cocktail Hour with upcoming posts that feature great virtual cocktail hour theme ideas, fabulous new and old cocktails to try, and a few tasty snack ideas.Don't miss a post from our Inspired Cooks Blog — Sign Up Now —and you won't miss a morsel!